ALMOST 80% of the nurse and midwife graduates from Cork University Hospital’s (CUH’s) new degree courses have been blocked from HSE work as a direct result of the system’s recruitment embargo.
Despite an official HSE statement claiming yesterday’s graduation of 86 nursing specialists was a key moment for the health service, bureaucratic red- tape is preventing almost all from obtaining full-time hospital work.
The Irish Examiner understands that of the 86 graduates who have been lauded by senior HSE South officials as the future of the system, just 16 have found public service work.
They have all been employed on three-month contracts at CUH and the neighbouring Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH). The contracts run out at the end of March.
Of the remaining 70 graduates, all are understood to be working in public hospitals for private nursing agencies — which are used to fill staff gaps but cost the taxpayer significantly more than their public worker counterparts.
This is despite the fact at least 120 nursing and midwifery posts have been unfilled for a considerable period at CUH and CUMH.
A spokesperson for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), who branded the positive HSE statement on yesterday’s graduation a “disgrace”, said graduates were likely to either emigrate or find agency work.
If the latter preferable option is taken up, the spokesperson said whatever hospital employed the new graduates would have to pay 21% VAT to the private agency firm, a 7% “commission” fee and €14.80 per hour to the nurse or midwife in question.
“In order to hire staff a hospital has to have the post passed by the HSE’s employment monitoring group.
“It’s because of financial issues, but employing agency nurses as cover costs more in the medium and long run than staffing up graduates,” an INMO spokesperson said.
The situation emerged on the same day as CUH’s director of nursing, Dr Mary Boyd, described the nurses and midwives graduation as a “milestone” moment.
The group of former students, who are the 30th batch to qualify from the CUH and University College Cork (UCC) scheme, include the first ever graduates from the four-year BSc in general nursing, the BSc in midwifery and the BSc in children’s and general nursing degrees.
They come from locations such as Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford, Laois, Clare, Kilkenny and Britain.
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